Catching Up

I returned to Redwood City this week, after having spent the past two weeks on the road. Originally our trip had been scheduled as a one-week journey to Arizona, to catch up with my wife’s siblings after not seeing them together for the past two years. But personal business related to the recent passing of my father also meant a trip to San Diego, and we didn’t see sense in driving to San Diego and back, and then turning around and driving to Phoenix and back (yes, we could have flown and then rented a car, but we needed to transport some stuff home that necessitated our making the drive). So we ended up doing a long drive to San Diego, and then to Phoenix, and then back to San Diego, and then home. All went well, and we had a lovely time — although the weather was decidedly weird on parts of the trip.

In any case, after having been gone for two weeks, my first inclination was to get out and walk the city, to see what I had missed. As it turns out, not a great deal: the projects that have been underway continued to make slow but steady progress, while the ones that were waiting for a green light from the city are still waiting.

My wife spotted something new that I had not noticed before, and thus I assume occurred during our absence: a pair of “butterfly” benches have been added to Stafford Park:

These are located toward the King Street end of the park, between the two conventional benches that have been there for a while. Linden Park (in the residential area across El Camino Real from the Target shopping center) has had one or two of these for quite some time now; I don’t know if these benches came from there, or are extras, or what. I’ll have to ask around.

On the subject of parks, I paid a visit to the site of the city’s future Veterans Memorial Building/Senior Center in Red Morton Park, where I arrived just in time to watch a parade of cement mixers pulling up. They were there to supply cement to a pumper truck that was being used to fill the wooden forms for the building’s foundation:

At one point there were four cement mixers out on Madison Avenue, waiting their turn to supply the pumper truck. It was quite a ballet watching the trucks taking turns backing into the space where they were needed:

Once the cement has cured, the building should begin to take shape. I’m looking forward to seeing it rise from the ground!

Over at 612 Jefferson Avenue, they weren’t pumping cement, but insulation:

This 20-unit for-sale Habitat for Humanity project seems to be making rapid progress. The exterior appears complete, and at least some parts of the building are getting blown-in insulation. The “lobby” (such as it is; it really is just a hallway leading to the garage, the building’s elevator and stairwell, and various utility and trash rooms) looks basically complete, except for some final details. Looking through the open vehicular door to the building’s garage I didn’t see the tandem car stackers that will be located inside, but then again it was hard to see all the way to the building’s back wall where they are to be located. So they may or may not already be there.

Downtown, I was delighted to see that the (very) small Aili Ice Designs “floral boutique” on the Broadway side of the building at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Broadway was open and selling flowers, succulents, and other plants:

This shop is designed so that the sales counter and some of the shelving is on wheels. At night, everything is stored inside the roughly 100-square-foot space allocated to the shop. During the day, the parts on wheels are brought out to the sidewalk, revealing a refrigerated case inside. It all makes for a remarkably functional space — as long as the weather is nice. Fortunately, that is almost always the case in “Climate Best by Government Test” Redwood City.

Just down the street, I was also pleased to note that the Oyster Boy restaurant space has a new tenant: “Sushirrito.”

Apparently ours will be the latest location for a small restaurant chain that currently has outlets in San Francisco, Burlingame, and Palo Alto. And yes, as you might have guessed from the name, they claim to be the world’s first (only?) “sushi burrito restaurant.” From their website:

We infuse multi-cultural flavors into every sushi burrito.  By blending the premium flavors and healthiness of sushi with the form factor and convenience of burritos, we bring to you fresh, convenient, large, hand-held sushi rolls.

If you are imagining sushi ingredients rolled up into a tortilla, don’t. These are more akin to conventional sushi rolls, just burrito-sized and wrapped in paper like a burrito. They actually look quite good; I’m eager to give one a try. Some of the sushi burritos do appear to contain ingredients you don’t normally find in a typical sushi restaurant: the “Fiery Chicken,” for instance, does indeed have chicken (along with “wasabi dust,” shaved peppers, and jalapeños, all of which presumably combine to justify the word “fiery” in the burrito’s name). Personally I’ll probably pass on that one, although I have a good friend who will undoubtedly love it.

When they open, you’ll find Sushirrito at the corner of Broadway and the entrance to the Main Street Parking Lot.

Over on Main Street, the under-construction 125-unit affordable apartment building now has a sign posted indicating where interested parties can get more information about the units that will be available and where they can sign up to be contacted once they can be leased. All of the apartments in this building will be affordable to families making 80 percent or less of the San Mateo County Area Median Income (AMI). The building sports studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom (with two full bathrooms) apartments, ranging in size from 437 square feet up to 1,156 square feet. All appear to have small private decks.

Although the building’s website (353MainSt.com) has yet to be fully fleshed out — the only photo posted so far is a rendering of what the building will look like from the street when completed — you will find floor plans and prices, along with a list of amenities there. Oh, and the website indicates that the apartments should be available this summer or fall.

Across the freeway on Maple Street, I continue to see construction activity on the 131-unit 1548 Maple Street townhouse project. There is now a fairly smooth road leading up from the Docktown Marina parking lot to the project site:

And elsewhere on Maple Street there is now a sign proclaiming — possibly somewhat optimistically, although I’d love to be proven wrong — that the anticipated completion date for the project is “Winter 2022.” By identifying a season, though, they buy themselves some flexibility: Winter 2022 could be thought of as running through the end of February 2023. So maybe they’ll make it after all.

Finally, I of course took some more photos of the rapidly developing wooden office building being constructed on the County Center parcel along Marshall Street:

When complete the building will be five stories tall; clearly it has a way to go. The above photograph shows the building from Marshall Street; from the opposite side it has gone a bit higher:

That left “arm” of the building (which will be shaped like a capital ‘H’) is currently three stories tall, with two yet to come (the metal towers, one of which is embedded in each of the building’s four arms, show the eventual height of the building).

From the ground, I can only show you so much. Fortunately, however, my colleague Sam Johnson over at Droning Around can provide us with a view that I cannot:

From here you can clearly see the ‘H’ shape of the building, along with the building’s four metal towers. You can also see how two of the legs of the ‘H’ are cut on a diagonal. Why, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it is just the architect’s way of giving the building some extra visual interest. Regardless, I continue to marvel at all of the wood that this building is using, and how beautiful it is. I can’t wait to see inside.

Along with the above, Sam also sent me a number of other images taken with his drone. One I specifically asked for: a single aerial shot showing the entirety of the ELCO Yards (“South Main Mixed-Use”) project site. Since the project will occupy six city blocks, I find it very hard to convey the magnitude of this project with pictures taken from ground level alone. Even Sam seems to have had a bit of trouble getting high enough to encompass the entire site, although this one shows it rather well:

[click the image for a version you can zoom in on]

In a future post I’ll mark up the image to make things more clear. For now, though, what looks like a street running from the upper left corner down to the bottom of the image is actually the Caltrain tracks. Midway along those tracks is the roller rink building. To the right of the roller rink is a street running from the top of the image straight down to the bottom: that is Main Street. At the bottom of the triangle formed by the tracks and by Main Street, just below the roller rink, is Redwood City’s Main Street Dog Agility Park. Above the roller rink is an open space with two buildings along the top: the left-hand building is an old warehouse, while the right-hand one, with the orange-brown roof, is the Perry Feeds shed that will be recreated in the final project and used as a restaurant.

Towards the right side of the image is another angled street, one that parallels the Caltrain tracks. That is El Camino Real. The smaller gray-white-roofed building to the left of El Camino Real is the old Hopkins Acura dealership, while above it, close to the middle of the image, is the old Towne Ford dealership. To the left of the Towne Ford dealership building, across Lathrop Street (which runs vertically through the center of the image), is vertically oriented rectangular building with a white roof: this was Towne Ford’s body shop. Finally, the remaining large white roof in the lower portion of the image is an old building that used to be home to West Coast Insulation, but has been empty for some time. Below that, but not connected to it, along Main Street is a small single-story office building that is not part of the ELCO Yards project and thus will remain. To the right of that is what until recently was the Main & Elm restaurant.

This one picture, then, pretty much shows the entirety of the six blocks that will be the ELCO Yards project (there is a separate site, not connected to these and not within range of this picture, that will hold an affordable apartment building). ELCO Yards will consume all of the Towne Ford properties, the Hopkins Acura property, the West Coast Insulation parcel (minus the small office building, which will remain), the roller rink parcel, and the entire parcel upon which the Perry Feeds shed now stands. Everything will go, along with one short section of one street. One other street — Beech Street — will get realigned, and Lathrop Street will be reconfigured to be more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

In addition to aerial photos of the county office building project and the ELCO Yards project, Sam generously threw in a couple of photos of a very recently completed project: the Port of Redwood City’s updated fishing pier:

This T-shaped pier, made from concrete, replaced an old wooden pier that had a similar configuration. The pier is now open, and available for use by fishermen, sightseers, or anyone else who just wants to check it out. I haven’t walked out there yet since it has been opened, but it’s on my list…

Next week I hope to get a better look at the 1548 Maple Street project activity, and I’m hoping to catch at least some of the demolition of the building at 1384 El Camino Real, the future site of the affordable apartment building that will be built as part of ELCO Yards. While it’ll probably be too soon to see construction activity on the Veterans Memorial Building/Senior Center project, I’ll likely swing by and see, just in case. But for now, I think I’m pretty well caught up.

16 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Hello Creg,. Great information thanks. Now talking about all this Projects around our beautiful city. I noticed nobody is protesting about global warming, all this Projects REQUIRED A LOT OF WOOD.

  2. Hi Greg – you mentioned there still hadn’t been demo permits issued for ELCO – curious if you heard any updates? I bike by the future ELCO site every day and see all the fencing. I wonder when I might start seeing signs of demo.

    • Still no change – the demo permits do not appear to have been granted. I imagine that actual demolition will commence once they are (and I’m betting that the Roller Rink is the first building to go, but that’s just a guess), so we’ll probably see actual demolition activity before I see that the permit has been granted (I don’t check them every day…). Anyway, I don’t have any concrete data on when the demolition might actually start.

    • In answer to your question – “I wonder when I might start seeing signs of demo” – the answer is “today”! Crews are actively tearing down the Towne Ford building as I write this. The activity is taking place from the back side of the showroom building at first, so it doesn’t look like much from El Camino Real at the moment, but it is quite visible from Beech Street.

  3. To be fair, many Japanese restaurants, e.g., Sushi Plus and Japonica, do offer a chicken and/or fish Karaage. I find them certainly more delectable than fast food alternatives.

  4. Government Center in downtown Redwood City is an FAA no-fly zone for drones. It sits under the pathway of the San Carlos Airport. The only way to get authorization to fly a drone there is to: 1. Be an FAA-certified Part 107 Remote Pilot, and 2) get a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) approval. I looked on Sam Johnson’s website and it does not state that he has obtained a Remote Pilot Certificate. If he does not have one, then I’d suggest you do not use any of his photos as you would be in violation of Part 107 as well since, in essence, posting these photos constitutes commercial use.

    • Colin, even though it is in San Carlos airspace, you can call the San Carlos ATC tower and request clearance to fly (often they give me clearance for up to 200 or 300 feet. I’ve done it several times as a recreational drone pilot. Not sure if this pilot called the tower or not, but it is possible and perfectly legal to fly there if he followed the proper steps.

  5. Great write up as always. My wife is very excited to have Sushirrito join the restaurant scene downtown. Like Zareen’s, Sushirrito is pretty trendy/popular and it speaks volumes on how desirable downtown has become for these types of businesses to expand here. I recall reading one of your older blog posts about how Theatre way will now be a permanent pedestrian way but I believe the current Broadway closures was still temporary. The section between Jefferson and Main is really lovely as a pedestrian only section, it will be interesting to see what the future brings. Usually it’s retail businesses that oppose street closures and restaurants that are in favor. That section of Broadway is almost all restaurants do I don’t foresee a lot of pushback. They could do some really nice upgrades to the street if they decide to permanently close it.

    • Theatre way is definitely staying closed (with a gate that will provide access to delivery trucks and fire trucks). As far as I know, the city is still mulling over whether or not to keep that two-block section of Broadway closed. I certainly agree that it should remain a pedestrian mall/outdoor dining area; it is really nice as it currently is.

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